Robin helps OC deliver on hybrid working

28 September 2022

Opencast’s new HQ in Newcastle opened last spring alongside three new hubs in cities UK-wide. To enable its flexible hybrid approach and in-person collaboration, it has deployed the Robin platform to enable its people to book work spaces at any location, any time. Project manager Dan Pearson explains progress so far.

When Opencast embarked on its plans to expand to a new office headquarters and city hubs, we had two clear goals: one, to enable our post-lockdown hybrid approach, and two, to inspire and empower our team to do their best work.

The design and operation of our new HQ in particular also offered an opportunity to allow Opencast to stand out in the sector to demonstrate to our people, and others in the industry, just what could be done.

Colour photograph of four people sitting in an office with a person on a TV screen behind
Our new spaces enable our post-lockdown hybrid approach and inspire our team to do their best work

Views of our people taken on board

To help us plan, and ensure that the views of our people as the users of our spaces were taken on board, we established a workplace project team to look at what both the business and our people would need from the new space – and what technology we’d need to turn our ‘right place right time’ vision into a reality.

We knew we had to increase the size of the office, but the extent of that changed throughout the pandemic, as we moved from working predominantly on client sites to a hybrid model with a greater emphasis on Opencast-led spaces. This gave us an opportunity to define with ambition what an Opencast office should be.

Our old office was small and simple. But, with only one conference room, 25 desks, and no way for teams to make reservations, the space was no longer fit for purpose.

We had 27 people at Opencast when we moved into our original office in 2016, so the space made sense at the time, but we went into lockdown in 2020 with 110 people. Two years later and we now have over 350 people working for us. We knew we needed to address spatial challenges.

A key question I needed to answer in the workplace project was: how do we ensure that people who come into the office to work will get a desk?

We’d previously relied on a spreadsheet to track office usage and desk availability. It was a struggle to keep track of all the moving pieces and information was often missing. It was time for something new.

We knew we needed a space that was more than just a home base with seating; a space that didn’t just support collaboration but encouraged it. A space that would be both inviting and equipped with technology that enabled hybrid work.

Staying true to our user-focused ethos, we began extensive user research and consultation to design a user-centred, intentional space supported by technology.

Colour photograph of people sitting and standing in an office social space
Our new space helps people come together and socialise

That's when we met Robin

This led to a workplace design focused on providing amenities and opportunities that would be difficult or impossible to achieve at home. So we invested in spaces that met our design objective and supported collaboration and the need for people to come together and socialise.

That left us with one last step: finding a tool that would help us keep desk and room booking organised, support team co-ordination, and make coming into the office seamless and enjoyable.

We needed a tool that:

  • Simplified the desk booking process
  • Offered a user-friendly interface
  • Easily integrated with Office 365 for seamless room booking
  • Provided workplace analytics and office usage data.

That is when we met Robin. As a hybrid workplace platform that met all of our requirements, Robin clearly stood out. But what also impressed us were the company values of the Robin business itself. I remember talking about Robin and its history and thinking that it actually sounded similar to our own, and how much its values aligned with our own.

It helped that on Robin everything was self-serve. I was able to set up our account within a day. Implementation was relatively simple, and after testing the software with a small group, we rolled out the Robin platform and also its app across the company. Everything ran smoothly with quick adoption and increased engagement.

Today all of our people use Robin to book desks and spaces. As we’ve become more comfortable with the software, we’ve started utilising other features such as:

  • Health checkpoints: a quick survey before entering the office
  • Announcements: a streamlined way to share office events or changes
  • Employee experience surveys: an effective way to solicit feedback from teams
  • Workplace analytics: an easy way to track office usage and office trends.

We’ve also incorporated Robin into our on-boarding process. That means sharing guides and videos with new hires, and requiring that our people book desks and rooms before they come in.

We are without doubt happy with our new office. We are not trying to recreate people’s home offices – we are trying to build something that you can’t get from home. That means both socialising and collaboration – and Robin has helped us deliver.

This post is an edit of a case study on the Robin website.

Illustration of an office floor plan with desks marked for booking
Today all of our people use Robin to book desks and spaces

We needed a tool that would help us keep desk and room booking organised, support team co-ordination – and make coming into the office seamless and enjoyable